I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Jaclyn Moriarty lately. I think I first heard about her when Michelle of See Michelle Read reviewed The Ghosts of Ashbury High. Ever since then, Michelle has been trying to convince me to read at least one of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books. Also, I saw that Ana of The Book Smugglers raved about all of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books in this post. The last time Ana did this was when she found out about MWT’s Queen’s Thief series and you all know how much I love that series. I wanted to read The Ghosts of Ashbury High but it’s not available here. Thankfully, The Year of Secret Assignments (published as Finding Cassie Crazy in Australia) is available in Fully Booked for P378. Yay for awesome local bookstores!
Here’s the summary from Jaclyn Moriarty’s website:
Cassie: “I always think it’s funny when a teacher tries to be cool. I want to sit them down and say ‘It’s okay, you’re a grown-up, you’re allowed to be a nerd,’ and they will look up at me confused but also relieved and teary-eyed.”
Lydia: “I am a fish. You wouldn’t think so to look at me, what with my uniform and the hair on top of my head and all that. But it’s true. I am a fish.”
Emily: “Don’t get me started about chocolate! My nickname might be ‘Em,’ but sometimes it’s also Toblerone! I think this is an angiogram of Thompson, which is my last name.”
And their pen-pals? Sebastian is an artist, a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, and a major hottie. Charlie is utterly gullible, a car expert/occasional thief, and a really sweet guy. But Matthew is… well, he’s either a psychopath or a figment of Cassie’s imagination, neither of which is a good sign. And what starts out as a simple letter exchange leads to secret assignments, false alarms, lock picking, legal drama, mistaken identities, Dates with Girls, and all-out war between the schools… the biggest challenge Lydia, Cass, and Emily’s friendship has ever faced.
I think this is the second book in Jaclyn Moriarty’s series and I was worried that I’ll be lost because I haven’t read the first one but it seems like they’re all just loosely connected and you can start with any of her books. The Year of Secret Assignments is written in a variety of formats, it’s like a scrapbook of sorts. The story unfolds through notebook and diary entries and the exchanged letters of three Ashbury students and three Brookefield students. At first, it was a bit confusing because you have to deal with so many points of view but I didn’t mind because there were a lot of hilarious moments even early on. Plus, I love writing and receiving letters. When we were in high school, my friends and I exchanged letters all the time. I don’t even know why we did that because we could have just talked in person. I still have most of those letters in shoe boxes stored in one of my cabinets.
This book was a lot of fun to read! The characters were so quirky, each crazy in his or her own way and I loved them. In Mr. Botherit’s intention to resurrect “The Joy of the Envelope,” these characters’ personalities shine forth through their letters. I must say that Cassie is my favorite character in this one because although she’s not as exuberant as Emily or Lydia, her personality is just as distinct. She’s funny in her own subtle way. There’s a bit of romance it this book but overall, I think it’s refreshing to read a YA book that’s more about friendship than anything else – the kind of friendship that starts in primary school and would probably last for a lifetime and those unexpected ones that bloom through letter-writing, secret assignments, tutorials about how to date girls and whatnot. Cass, Em and Lyd are so very different from each other but they are steadfast and loyal when it comes to helping out one another.
If you’re interested in something light and funny with a dash of insanity thrown in for good measure, then I recommend this book. I was laughing out loud in several sections of this book and I can’t wait to read Jaclyn Moriarty’s other books. I’m especially curious about Bindy because of her incredible typing skills. She has only one scene in the book but I think that’s one of my favorites.